Homebrew Review: Magellan’s Black Cherry Stout

It’s a complete coincidence, but I’m happy to say that my first homebrew review is of a beer that came out particularly well. It also happens to be the first recipe I ever brewed. Back in 2006 after being inspired by a Sam Adams brewery tour, a good friend and I decided the whole “brewing thing” didn’t seem all that hard, and we went out and picked up a homebrew kit. Given that we knew absolutely nothing about the process, the store manager suggested we try out one of the pre-packaged recipe kits.

The most interesting one on the shelf was a black cherry stout, so we went with it. The kit was a pretty simple extract based recipe, and we just followed the directions using our new equipment. Three weeks later, we were drinking our first beer. And it came out great. A huge confidence boost for first-time brewers. 

You just have to put in the time. It’s really that easy.

Five years later, I found myself wondering whether it was actually as good as I remembered. So I decided to make it again. Here’s the original recipe. I stayed true to it in spirit, but adjusted it to be an all-grain recipe with a wide variety of specialty grains and a few hop additions. The black patent, chocolate, and roasted barley provide a dark matly character, and the flaked barley adds some some thickness to the head. I modified the hops schedule to add some more bitterness.

Here it is:

The result: A great winter stout with a dark matly character balanced by a prominent hop aroma. The black cherry flavors are noticeable, but not overwhelming, and the head is thick and creamy. It’s been conditioning for just two weeks, and I’m sure it will only get better with age. I would make this recipe again, but might consider using fresh cherries next time. The cherry flavoring seems to mellow with age, and I’d like to make it a bit more prominent, and maybe even add a hint of sourness.

Overall Rating: 8.5/10*

Here’s a summary of the beer:
ABV: 6.1%
IBU: 40
SRM: 26

And here’s the full recipe.

*I acknowledge the somewhat obvious conflict of interest that arises when I rate my own beer. But nobody else is going to rate it, and I need some record of the quality of each recipe. Maybe I’ll impose an average rating over time. Maybe I wont.

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